An entertaining night in Belfast was topped off by a nine darter from Adrian Lewis in his victory over James Wade.
There were wins for Phil Taylor and Robert Thornton over Raymond van Barneveld and Peter Wright respectively.
Van Barneveld would salvage his night with a win over Robert Thornton in the last game of the evening, meanwhile Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson contested a high class draw.
Four players are effectively playing for two places to make finals night at the O2, so the results from the Bournemouth International Centre this week will be of the utmost importance.
Michael van Gerwen vs Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen averaged 110.55 and had a 60% checkout success in his match against Gary Anderson, and it was still only good enough for a draw.
That was the Dutchman’s fourth draw of the competition, and he will be bitterly disappointed he hasn’t turned a few of those into victories.
‘Mighty Mike’ currently sits in second position, four points off leader Phil Taylor, but plays twice in Bournemouth so shall be looking to cut that as much as possible.
He will be confident in getting his night off to a flying start against a man he has beaten 11 times in their last 12 meetings, including the recent UK Open final.
Peter Wright suffered a disappointing loss against Robert Thornton, as his hopes of reaching the O2 took a hit.
‘Snakebite’ again altered his darts for the clash, and they didn’t give him the consistency he has been playing with in recent weeks, and he will need to find a set of arrows he is comfortable with if he wants to compete with van Gerwen.
The Scot only averaged 92.48 and 20% of his doubles against Thornton, and with the head to head record so heavily in Van Gerwen’s favour, I am going to side with the World Number One in this encounter.
My Pick: Michael van Gerwen
Adrian Lewis vs Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis sent the Northern Irish crowd into hysteria when he landed his nine darter against James Wade.
More importantly, ‘Jackpot’ picked up a 7-5 victory over fellow playoff contender, James Wade, and edge into third position.
The two time World Champion hasn’t been as consistent as he would have hoped for in this years Premier League, but has done a good job in beating the players behind him in the table to help him to where he now sits.
Van Barneveld had a mixed night in Belfast, losing to Phil Taylor early in the night before returning to defeat fellow basement boy Robert Thornton.
Even with the victory over Thornton, in which he averaged only 92.53, the Dutchman’s chances of reaching the O2 are slim to none, and is only playing for pride at this stage.
When the pair met in Liverpool, it was Lewis who came out on top 7-5, and I can see the Stoke native coming through again in another tight encounter.
My Pick: Adrian Lewis
Gary Anderson vs James Wade
Gary Anderson seems to save his best form for the biggest stage, none more so than last week against Michael van Gerwen.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ averaged 108.24 in the draw, but it was his finishing which was even more impressive, missing only one shot from seven.
The draw seen Adrian Lewis leapfrog him into third place, but the Scot will still be confident in sealing his place in London, giving himself a chance to defend his Premier League crown.
The Scot has only lost once in his last nine games in the competition (to Phil Taylor) and will be hoping that kind of form will see him past James Wade.
Wade is still in the hunt to reach the playoffs, sitting only one point behind Anderson in fifth, although he has played one game more.
‘The Machine’ would have been targeting two points from his match against Lewis last week, and it would have been a huge disappointment to come away empty handed.
Anderson has a massive advantage in their head to head record, winning 26 of their 39 meetings, and hasn’t lost in the last 11.
It is stats like that which point me in the direction of Anderson, and with the form and consistency the reigning World Champion has shown in recent weeks, I think he gets the job done here.
My Pick: Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor vs Robert Thornton
Phil Taylor is riding the crest of a wave, and hasn’t tasted defeat since the very first week of the competition in Leeds.
That was at the hands of Raymond van Barneveld, but ‘The Power’ got his own back as he beat the Dutchman 7-5 in Belfast, even if he did temporarily gave his rival some hope of salvaging a point after being 5-1 up.
The result all but secured the 16 time World Champions place in the playoffs come the 19th of May, something he wasn’t able to do last year.
Robert Thornton was as bad in the last match of the evening last week as he was excellent in the first, and it is that kind of inconsistency which seems him propping the table up on six points.
His display against an under par Wright was almost flawless, averaging 105.61 and taking out over 50% of his shots at doubles, resulting in a 7-2 victory.
I thought he would use that confidence and bring it into his match against van Barneveld, but he never got going, averaging only 88.16 in a match that was really there for the taking.
‘The Thorn’s chances of reaching the O2 are gone, but he can still have a say on the ultimate outcome.
Taylor thumped Thornton 7-0 when they met in the regular season, and while I don’t expect to see that scoreline again, I do see Taylor picking up his 21st win over the Scot.
My Pick: Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen vs Adrian Lewis
The last match of the evening sees van Gerwen and Lewis return to the oche, and it could be fireworks.
These two men possess a high quality scoring game, and if they both get going, the crowd will not be disappointed.
This could well be a significant night in the deciding of who does finish in the top four, with the current occupants of those spots able to draw clear of the competition if results go their way.
Lewis hasn’t had much success in the past against van Gerwen, losing 26 of their 40 meetings, with there being two draws as well.
In what could be the most hotly contested match of the evening, I see van Gerwen getting the win and closing the gap on Phil Taylor at the top of the table.
My Pick: Michael van Gerwen